Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American

Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century's Most Photographed American

John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd

A landmark and collectible volume―beautifully produced in duotone―that canonizes Frederick Douglass via old photography.

Picturing Frederick Douglass is a piece that provides to revolutionize our wisdom of race and images in nineteenth-century the US. Teeming with old aspect, it truly is full of surprises, leader between them the truth that neither George Custer nor Walt Whitman, and never even Abraham Lincoln, used to be the main photographed American of that century. in truth, it was once Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), the ex-slave grew to become best abolitionist, eloquent orator, and seminal author whose fiery speeches reworked him into some of the most popular and renowned agitators of his age. Now, as a result groundbreaking examine of John Stauffer, Zoe Trodd, and Celeste-Marie Bernier, Douglass emerges as a number one pioneer in images, either as a stately topic and as a prescient theorist who believed within the explosive social strength of what was once then only a nascent paintings form.

Indeed, Frederick Douglass was once in love with images. through the 4 years of Civil conflict, he wrote extra largely at the topic than the other American, even whereas spotting that his audiences have been "riveted" through the struggle and sought after a speech in basic terms on "this amazing struggle." He frequented photographers’ studios usually and sat for his portrait every time he may. To Douglass, images used to be the good "democratic artwork" that will ultimately assert black humanity in preference to the slave "thing" and while counter the blackface minstrelsy caricatures that had come to outline the general public belief of what it intended to be black. for that reason, his legacy is inseparable from his portrait gallery, which incorporates one hundred sixty separate photographs.

At final, all of those pictures were accrued right into a unmarried quantity, giving us an incomparable visible biography of a guy whose prophetic imaginative and prescient and artistic genius knew no bounds. Chronologically prepared and generously captioned, from the 1st photograph taken in round 1841 to the final in 1895, all the images―many released the following for the 1st time―emphasizes Douglass's evolution as a guy, artist, and chief. additionally integrated are different representations of Douglass in the course of his lifetime and after―such as work, statues, and satirical cartoons―as good as Douglass’s personal writings on visible aesthetics, that have by no means earlier than been transcribed from his personal handwritten drafts.

The accomplished advent via the authors, in addition to headnotes for every part, an essay via Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and an afterword via Kenneth B. Morris, Jr.―a direct Douglass descendent―provide the definitive exam of Douglass's highbrow, philosophical, and political relationships to aesthetics. Taken jointly, this landmark paintings canonizes Frederick Douglass via a kind he favored the main: photography.


  • Contributions from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Kenneth B. Morris, Jr. (a direct Douglass descendent)
  • 160 separate images of Douglass―many of that have by no means been publicly obvious and have been lengthy misplaced to history
  • A selection of contemporaneous art that indicates how strong Douglass’s photographic legacy is still this present day, over a century after his death
  • All Douglass’s formerly unpublished writings and speeches on visible aesthetics

317 illustrations

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